2016-01-21 / Editorials

Evolving marijuana laws draw conflicting views

Local governments in the region went into overdrive recently, hustling to formulate new laws regarding the cultivation, transportation and use of medical marijuana. Three bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown give California cities and counties until March 1 to come up with effective local regulations, or else the state will do it for them.

It’s a time of great change in the public’s outlook toward cannabis, and while views on weed appear to be liberalizing, not everyone is quick to let their hair down.

The financial windfall of the industry notwithstanding, the state of California and its municipalities must take into account all factors associated with marijuana cultivation and use—safety, law enforcement, consumer protection—and come up with the appropriate regulations.

You or may or may not be happy with the recent ban by the County of Ventura and the Cities of Thousand Oaks, Calabasas, Moorpark and Camarillo on the growing and dispensing of medical marijuana, but at least give them credit for vetting all the angles and putting laws into place that make sure users are not harmed either now or in the future, when marijuana could become fully legalized.

The efforts to control prescription pot are needed. The law that introduced medical marijuana to California, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, has become so corrupted that just about anybody can obtain cannabis for personal, nonmedical use. Local cities are loathe to see a repeat of those pseudolegal pot stores that grew like weeds during the past 10 years and cast a smoky haze over the San Fernando Valley.

The Take Back America Campaign, a populist anti-drug movement, says more than 83 percent of cities and counties in California now ban cultivation and/or dispensaries in response to the abuses of California’s medical marijuana program.

The state’s voters, on the other hand, have made it clear that patients should be able to obtain medical marijuana.

For law- abiding businesses and legitimate users of the drug, the new local prohibition is a buzzkill. Medicinal pot is a proven method of helping patients deal with a wide array of ailments, and to see those patients suffer because of the abuses by a few truly breaks the heart. Meanwhile, alcohol and many addictive pain medications—with all their negative impacts—remain accepted and encouraged. This is the height of hypocrisy.

All this, of course, could become moot if measures on the November ballot make marijuana legal across the board like it is in Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

It promises to be a turbulent year on the marijuana front and, to our readers, we say, tune in, don’t drop out. Let your voice be heard in the newspaper and online regarding this subject. All opinions matter.

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